Tarqumiya, Thu 13.12.07, Morning

Hava Tal and Varda Shilo (reporting)

We arrived at 5:45.

The situation already looked bad from the road. A large number of transports were blocking the road and waiting for the workers to cross over.

We estimated that 500+ workers were waiting in the line which began some distance before the covered track. Workers we asked said they had been waiting over two hours. A representative from B'tselem was there to film what was happening at the checkpoint. They had heard that for the past two weeks there was excessive crowding and the waiting time was very long. A soldier told us that the crowding was the result of the closureinfo-icon of two other checkpoints: "Jaba" and "Chusam".

Papers were being checked quickly and efficiently by a staff of six military police, including two women. We took a time measurement and found that, on average, 23 workers were passing through the checkpoint every minute.

At 6:15 the officer in charge decided to change the checking procedure. Three soldiers who had been checking papers inside the station stepped outside. The pace increased markedly and we timed 44 workers passing through the checkpoint per minute.

Now the workers who passed smile and ask us to come everyday. They claim that on the days when no one from Machsom Watch is there, the line is held up for hours. They missed a day's work because "after 7:00 the contractors don't want us anymore."

When we left at 6:40, the line was very short and consisted of no more than 200 workers.

On our way out a man stopped us and asked for help with a family problem. We gave him the phone number of a human rights organization in Palestine.